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Jazz family weathers storm

Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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When jazz vocalist Stephanie Jordan sings “The Good Life” tonight, she’ll mean every word of the old Frank Sinatra tune.Especially the lyrics about needing to “explore the unknown, like the heartache when you learn you must face them alone.””Just driving in, beholding the mountains and the canyons, it renews your hope that life is so much bigger,” said Stephanie, who survived the nation’s costliest hurricane last fall. “Katrina was such a contrast.”Stephanie, whose lyrical style has been compared to Nora Jones and Dianne Krall, is one of four siblings in The Jordan Family. The seven-piece group plays the second Summer of Jazz show at 7 p.m. today at Two Rivers Park.Like her musician brothers and sister, the petite vocalist is rebounding from Katrina’s destruction.”In our immediate family alone, seven dwellings were lost,” Stephanie said. “I had eight feet of water in my house, and lost everything pianos, sheet music, my entire wardrobe, a singer’s wardrobe.”

For The Jordan Family, coming to Colorado even just for a few days helps them heal.”Economic development for performers is important. We’ve lost many venues in New Orleans,” Stephanie said. “Opportunities in New Orleans are really down. To be able to travel and perform is a blessing. It will release some thoughts. … After Katrina, I’m beginning to write.”Trumpeter Marlon Jordan looks to his music for a sense of normalcy after nearly losing his life to the hurricane.”We’re trying to rebuild,” said Marlon, the youngest New Orleans band leader to ever sign with a major record label. “Everybody is trying to get back to what we were doing before our livelihood.”Marlon camped out on the roof of his New Orleans home for five days, waiting to be rescued.”I had a two-story house and my whole bottom floor was flooded,” the 35-year-old said. “I had to bust a hole through the top of the roof and stay out there during the day so they would see us. I built a cabana out of a shower curtain.”

A long-line helicopter rescue mission pulled Marlon and his girlfriend from the roof. Not knowing the extent of his injuries, Marlon had two fractured ankles from swimming through flood waters and kicking mailboxes.”It’s something I never want to go through again,” he said. “At that point, you just want to get out of there. You’re hot, you’re hungry and you’re dehydrated.”Violinist Rachel Jordan is still recovering from Katrina’s havoc. She lost two prized violins and several bows before suffering an accident on her way to see her damaged home.”I dislocated my shoulder and broke my arm in four places. I’m in a certain amount of pain, and it’s still not 100 percent,” said Rachel, a professor of violin/viola at Jackson State University in Mississippi. “I played my first chamber music concert recently, and it felt better. They taped me up like a football player.”A violinist since age 7, Rachel has followed a musical path through life. She regrets that Katrina claimed many of her documented memories of her journey.”I still can’t find the tape where I played with the New Orleans Symphony for the first time,” she said. “I lost a lifetime of music I need to start collecting concertos and sonatas.”



Music, especially New Orleans jazz, is a way of life for Rachel, Marlon, Stephanie and their brother, flutist Kent Jordan. They are all children of saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan, who the French government recognized with a knighthood for his contribution to the European performing arts.Sir Kidd Jordan also lost irreplaceable music mementos. “My father lost 50 or 60 saxophones,” Marlon said. “He’s been playing since he was 20 years old.”Soon after the hurricane, Stephanie and her siblings performed during Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit broadcast nationwide. This fall, she and Marlon are touring Europe as part of the U.S. State Department’s Higher Ground relief effort.For now, The Jordan Family, with drummer Ocie Davis, pianist Mike Esneault and bass player Roland Guerin who played with Michael White’s quartet at last week’s Summer of Jazz concert are enjoying “The Good Life” in Glenwood Springs. “We’ll play stuff people recognize, some Billie Holliday and Frank Sinatra,” Stephanie said. “And Marlon will play a couple blues songs from New Orleans. Maybe we’ll do a little Latin flavor for a nice mix.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com

Every Wednesday, the Summer of Jazz concert series hosts free concerts from 7-9:30 p.m. at Two Rivers Park. This year, Summer of Jazz is in tribute to New Orleans music and its heritage. Each week the Post Independent profiles the featured musicians and acts. For more information on The Jordan Family, visit http://www.summerofjazz.com. Name: The Jordan Family Ages: 35 to 47 Type of jazz played: classic New Orleans-style Whats the most irreplaceable item you lost in Hurricane Katrina? Mainly its the family pictures that kill you, violinist Rachel Jordan said.


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